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  • Writer's pictureDr. Mohita Shrivastava

Stay ‘positive’ attitude is sometimes ‘toxic’ for our mental health & well-being.

Updated: Apr 4

Positive attitude or optimistic approach is a key to move along with the challenges we continuously face in our lives. ‘Think positive’ attitude, no doubt helps us to preserve a goal by reassuring our desirable thoughts over pessimism.

We also often hear idiolects like ‘have a positive outlook’, ‘be optimistic’ from our friends & family, particularly when a situation is hard, or circumstances are not cordial but disappointing & discerning. Do you think that ‘having a positive outlook no matter what’ works great for our mental health & well-being? The simple answer is ‘NO’. If a particular situation is not sustainable or harmonious then why are we often advised by others to stay positive? It is because a concept known as Toxic positivity has been embossed & jam-packed in our minds as the only righteous virtue.

Toxic Positivity a belief system that no matter how worse the situation tends to be one should maintain a positive outlook & discards all kind of negative emotions and feelings. It welcomes frequent untrue positive cover-ups and dismisses true expression of feelings or emotions. On a pragmatic not, we all experience painful emotions, feelings of disgust, being cheated or blamed or humiliated- a kind of gaslighting effect. Why are not these emotions allowed to be felt, discussed openly,  honestly with integrity of acceptance to attain better physical & mental health?

            The What’s- ‘Side Effects’

  1. It dumps our genuine emotions by blocking the actual support one is looking for to cope with

  2. It shuts down the realistic and pragmatic thoughts about a disturbing situation & amplifies false reassurances 

  3. It makes our true feelings shelved, disdained, unnoticed, or absolutely quashed by gaslighting- creating a false narrative of reality & loads one up with blame, fault, and disgust

  4. It leads to feelings of guilt, shame, curtails our confidence, lowers our drive & motivation for life

  5. It leads to psychosomatic troubles like headache, pains, gastric butterflies, anxiety, worry, depression, fear etc.

  6. It often leads one to stop acknowledging their true feelings and prevents psychological well- being

        The How’s- ‘Tackling Toxic Positivity’

  • Do not phantom your emotions & feelings to haunt you later, instead allow & resolve.

  • Do not let others to bolt you with positive affirmations intentionally or unintentionally 

  • Understand that trying to pacify someone in their grief or anger can cause alienation & disconnection.

  •  Put a quell on toxicity positivity by explaining others what exactly you are looking for at that moment instead of welcoming their impractical positive advice.

  • Make clear what you want or seek from others & set their emotional mindset as per the situation

  • Jot down your negative emotions during hard times & do SWOT analysis

  • Talk to a relevant person or try and create an amicable situation to resolve, if possible

  • Manage your intense negative emotions by mindfulness or nurturing your hobby but at no cost block them from popping up

  • Understand that positivity & negativity are the two aspects of life. Sometimes it’s a golden shiny sun and sometimes it’s cloudy. ‘Accept both’

  • Understand that ‘not every hard situation needs a silver lining’



Dr. Mohita Shrivastava is an internationally trained neuroscientist & a neuropsychologist and Founder & CEO of the  ‘Cognitome Program‘. She holds a Ph.D. degree (Neuroscience) from AIIMS, New Delhi, India & completed her collaborative Ph.D. research training from Kansas University Medical Centre, Kansas, USA.

She holds two master’s degrees one in Biomedical Sciences from University of Delhi and other in Applied Clinical Psychology from Annamalai University. She also holds an Advanced PG Diploma in Applied Neuropsychology from University of Bristol, United Kingdom.

She has also completed a refresher skill enhancement training on "fMRI in Neuroscience Research" organized by MGH Athinuola Martino's Centre for Brain Imaging in collaboration with Harvard University, MIT, Massachusetts, Boston, USA in 2021She has been involved in neuroscience and neuropsychology teaching, research, projects & outreach, cognitive skills restructuring/training and brain, mind & behavior, guidance, counselling for more than 12 years. She has also published various research & review articles in international peer reviewed journals.

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